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  1. Regina
    Regina October 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm | | Reply

    I wouldn’t expect something like that on Downton Abbey either.

    I had a similar experience last night while watching American Horror Story. That show has never been shy about pointing out the horrors of rape, and not as a plot device either…. but I wasn’t expecting the scene. I think tv shows need to alert views with a trigger warning somehow.

    If I know a scene is coming, I fast forward or change the channel.

    Downton Abbey, like you said, is a safe show, or at least it used to be. It deals with political and social issues….. but not in a devastating way. I wonder why they made the choice to include sexual violence? They certainly don’t need the ratings.

  2. Garen
    Garen October 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm | | Reply

    On the subject of rape in media: I’ve always thought the attempted rape scene towards the end of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was too ridiculous to be problematic, but I am curious as to whether this assessment is accurate for other people of different experience. If anyone else has seen the movie, what were your thoughts on it?

  3. Natalie
    Natalie January 13, 2014 at 12:42 pm | | Reply

    Thank you. This episode was on for the first time last night here in the US, and I’m glad to read that I wasn’t the only one outraged.

    Yes, sexual assault happened a lot to servants in that time, but if they’re going to make servant life all flowers and sunshine, then it’s inappropriate to put in such a violent scene.

    I’m disappointed in Downton Abbey, and I’m over it now. It was nothing short of cheap sensationalism, and therefore, not worth my time anymore.

  4. Cindy
    Cindy January 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm | | Reply

    Thank you for your blog. It is difficult to speak out against betrayals of trust so unexpected and shocking that they leave us speechless. But I have tried my best in the following letter to my local PBS station. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share it, and to encourage others to do likewise:

    If PBS sent you the following programs, I’m certain you’d think twice before airing them:
    “Create Your Own Bombs at Home” on Nova.
    “Pyromaniacs Setting People on Fire” on Frontline.
    “Painful and Lingering Deaths of Wounded Young Animals” on Nature.
    “The Baby Torturer” on Call the Midwife.
    “Actual Footage of Innocent People of Color Being Lynched for No Reason” on Secrets of the Dead.

    Yet you had no qualms whatsoever about airing Episode 2, Season 4 of Downton Abbey.

    Viewers were expecting an episode devoted to lifting the stygian doom enshrouding elegant Downton/Highclere since Matthew’s untimely death. Ads promised a “glamorous pirate” in evening dress, a flirtatious manservant, an elegant evening of giddy games and dancing.

    We were shown a brutal, nasty, ugly, callous, cruel, evil, vicious rape by a sadist who strolled away smirking.

    It’s like being invited to partake in a gourmet dinner as you glide along the Danube on a Viking River Cruise – and then having your waiter hurl a turret-full
    of boiling soup in your face.

    I am outraged.

  5. martina
    martina January 13, 2014 at 4:54 pm | | Reply

    I agree — I will never get this scene out of my mind. I was expecting an evening of silly escape, but instead felt like I had my gut punched. No sleep and I still feel ill. I can’t watch or support this program any more.

    As a woman, it makes me so very angry that this plot was even added to the program. I wasn’t able to sleep very well last night – and I’m sure I am not alone. I can’t express in words my outrage.

    I can’t see anything good coming out of this awful story line. At least when Thomas Barrow was confronted about his sexuality, Lord Grantham told everyone to be accepting. I don’t expect this to happen in this event.

    This show has turned into a train wreck.

    Thanks Downton — you have caused permanent psychological damage. I’ll be sure not to renew my pledge to PBS.

  6. Michele
    Michele January 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm | | Reply

    I so totally agree with all of you! I did not watch it until this afternoon and like you was hoping to see something light, to lift the darkness of Mathew dying. When it got to the rape scene, I clicked it off and have decided that is it for me and Downton Abbey. It is sad because it had such possibilities. What is happening to PBS? We cannot trust them to have safe, enlightening good programs anymore? I for one am going back to INSP with the Waltons and Little House. At least they cannot change reruns to show today’s sick pre-occupation with violence and hate. I watch TV to be entertained. If I want to watch this kind of junk, I will watch the evening news.

  7. Ruth
    Ruth January 19, 2014 at 12:37 am | | Reply

    I can’t explain the shock and pain I felt at the end of season 4, episode 2 (in the U.S.) of Downton Abbey. Like Martina, above, I felt physical pain and sickness from it.

    I am so angry with Julian Fellowes and Masterpiece. They turned my favorite television escape into a nightmare. One nightmare ending of an otherwise enjoyable episode, and five nights of literal nightmares for me. They also permanently stained my favorite opera aria.

    If I wanted to see this sort of thing I would watch Criminal Minds or The Following. I will no longer watch Downton Abbey.

  8. Lesley
    Lesley January 19, 2014 at 4:21 pm | | Reply

    This Boycott. Sign me up.

  9. Lesley
    Lesley January 24, 2014 at 1:48 am | | Reply

    Thank the Powers That Be for this Site and The Boycott. I too am a survivor of brutal rape. Before I even knew there even was a Boycott of this PBS sponsered “Surprise! Viewing Audience!!!, it’s a gratuitous rape on masterpiece” (formerly called Theater)!!!!!” scene, I was Boycotting what I enjoyed as a mostly benign but engaging (due to the cast and crew) period drama on “masterpiece” (what for many years has been a trusted part of public television). The rather pricey book with lovely period photographs and Seasons 1-3 are now at the local book traders , at least I got a little trade credit for them. Now they’ve been turned to filth for me. I’ve not been at all well for the past 12 days but am beginning to slowly recover. This not only triggered flashbacks dangerous to mind and body, but, for me, is a rape in and of itself. What I refer to as “The BIG ONE” happened to me almost 30 years ago. It pains me to think what more recently real life violated persons who happened to be watching the show must be going through but my thoughts are with them too. And with the thinking and caring viewers who have also been psychologically and emotionally damaged/impacted. I’ll never watch or trust PBS ever again, much less support it in any way. They’ve totally sold out & have not only shown this piece of shit, they have brazenly, by enabling Downton Abbey into the 4th Season endorsed the Crime of rape and now themselves Violators. What’s next for “JF”??? To be rewarded with Knighthood by HRM herself? that would be the icing on the cake and he the phony cherry on top. Sociopaths, not unknown to me in the Performing Arts either, now have free reign to previously trusted television. Unimaginable. Now I watch Jon Stewart on Comedy Central and very little else
    Thank you for giving me a place to find kindred spirits, to vent a little, to Boycott socially. And to think that that “expert” adviser to the series about rape, Ms. Hull, or whatever, is still congratulating herself about the “tremendous” number of victims they’ve “helped” to come forward for the first time. Anybody else read that? and JF is still extremely pleased with himself as well, deaf to all who are outraged. I can only hope that their empire will totally collapse sooner rather than later! Love to all and take courage. We’ve already won the battle if not the war.
    Like the mouse that roared only most definitely not in any way, shape or form a comedy. Or mercenary British soap opera for that matter I sure do miss good Dickens BBC productions. Once again, thank you all. I’ll sign off for now this comment (commentary)

  10. Lesley
    Lesley February 4, 2014 at 3:08 am | | Reply

    I HAVE SOME REALLY GREAT NEWS EVERYBODY!!!! Sorry for shouting but I just have to share this. As a quilter I’m in the know about the Downton Abbey Collection of quilting fabrics that two of the biggest and trusted names in online quilt shops carry. I contacted the lady in charge of the biggest one I know out in the western US and pleaded with her to seriously consider discontinuing the line and told her why.
    Turned out our contact never watched the show but after reading my email to her she emailed me right back and said that not only would she stop all further orders of the said Collection but she immediately began to aggressively sell her remaining inventory, (at rock bottom prices it does indeed sound like) “in order to get rid of it as soon as possible!”. That fabric collection is not inexpensive by any means! Do you realize what this could mean? In one pretty darned big way, Julien Fellowes is goin’ dow-wow-n!!! (-tuhn-abbey I DON’T THINK SO! YAY!!!) You don’t mess with quilters and just lah-dee-fricken-dah get away with it in our universe JF!!!!!)
    Now, the other big on line quilt fabric and supply store on the East Coast, though less gratifying, also gave me an immediate response. She wasn’t in charge of ordering fabrics but that she forwarded my email to the powers that be immediately and thanked me for the heads-up so to speak. I know we could all use some good news about this.
    I will continue my online crusade to do everything I can to destroy this big name fabric collection with all of the other quilt fabric retailers I can find. Hooray for our side!!!!

  11. Pearl
    Pearl February 7, 2014 at 5:17 pm | | Reply

    I contacted ITV to complain, and I refused financial support of my local PBS station for this year for broadcasting the rape scene. Since I have worked with women who have been raped I do not turn to TV in the evening to shows that consider rape entertaining. If I want to seek out social activism I do so on my own time. I liked the show, but fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

  12. Lesley
    Lesley February 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm | | Reply

    I’m not sure If I’m reading your comment right Pearl, but was your comment about social activism directed at a what I wrote because I am taking whatever action I humanly can possible to eradicate HJ and DTN AB? Because I’m doing so out of outrage and pain and to avenge. I am one of the ones who has been assaulted, raped and nearly murdered and I’ve simply had enough and am actively participating in the Boycott by spreading the word and trying to persuade perveyors of Downtown Abbey Coolection quilt fabrics to tke the line off the market. The only thing that will actually hurt those Downton Abbey/PBS folks is if it hit’s them in the pocketbook, it’s the only thing that could possibly stop them, because appealing to their better nature And I’m not someone who just worked with women who were raped, and I’ve known my share of rape counselors so that in and of itself doesn’t necessarily highly recommend your opinion to me , if you were indeed trying to dis my comment. If this is a complete misunderstanding, please accept my apologies in advance and it’s good to know that you are boycotting by not watching further and by deciding to not further support PBS. But if you were somehow trying to hint that by taking proactive action one is in any way doing something shameful and were being fooled, well, to an actual survivor who had come a very long road in healing only to be violently knocked down by a once quaint period drama turned psycho-drama only a sick, demented Gastalt -ish mind could dream up, that you’d only lower yourself to do so on your own time, is, well, to say the least, kind of mean. I’m never watching Dowton Abbey, Masterpiece, or PBS again either. That’s passive boycotting, which is good. I’ll never support them with money in the future, that’s better. But I’m making some real noise about it because Enough is Enough already. I’ve even succeeded, even if it’s just a minor victory, in helping to make a difference, I’ve been getting the word out to major quilt shops both online and local imploring them to join the Boycott and not reorder the Fabric Collection. Even if some of them still decide to carry it, at least I’ve given them something to think about.
    That lone episode triggered in me something too gawdawful for words that too few mental health care workers have even a soupcon of knowledge about. Fortunately my new team does and, at the forefront is the first truly caring and brilliant therapist I’ve ever had. She and my other doctor explained how it is that people can and do die of shock.
    When someone tries to suppress the shock and silence us, that’s when it get’s dangerous, if not deadly. I am all but convinced a big reason I survived yet again, is that when the demons came on en masse, I didn’t suppress them, I experienced the crushing anguish, and I did. not. panic.
    Again, if I’ve misinterpreted your words, I do apologize. But do me the honor of indulging me as I am an old woman now whose health has been seriously compromised by this latest cruel assault on all of us and am still fighting for my life with every microfiber of my being. I’m not going to take this being silenced crap anymore. And if the next “hit” on my life finally takes me out or I die of the illnesses stress brings on, well, too bad, that’s a lot of gorgeous quilts and fiber art to leave the world with that will never get created, but I’m not going out like a good little rape victim anymore.
    My Voice counts and it’s actually being heard this time and to hell with convention.

  13. Lesley
    Lesley February 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm | | Reply

    typos from the previous include…Coolection(sic) ….:appealing to their better nature OBVIOUSLY hasn’t worked at all…… and of course, there’s no apostrophe in “hits”
    Sorry that I’m not in the habit of checking for errors before posting, but that’s just a little something I like to do in my own time.

  14. Cindy
    Cindy March 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm | | Reply

    The Downton Abbey Shocker was deliberately designed to produce an intensely agonizing emotional response in its audience.

    Of course it triggered flashbacks, nightmares, and other traumas. That was the intent of its creator. A traumatized audience is a hooked audience, if you can make them believe that their own pain will only end when the fictional villain is brought to justice. That makes it not only monstrous, by any standards, but also criminal, under U.S. law.

    I have created a website, PBS Is Broken, to help in the work of exposing this abomination for what it is ( (I’m still working on the code for a comments section.)

    I have also filed a complaint with the FCC. Most of it is too long and tedious to be of much interest. But if you skip to the “Evidence of Viewer Trauma” section, you might recognize some of the comments. (

    I hope no one minds my using the quotes without first asking permission. But they’re one of the reasons I’m so determined to see this through, until someone in authority behaves like an actual human being and is moved to action by the pain expressed in this blog. I want the “My Little Pony” and xanax story as stuck in their heads as it is in mine.

    Thanks again for allowing me to post again.

Please comment politely with a regular pseudonym or real name.

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